tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC May 7, 2015 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
globally. we've seen polls badly wrong in the u.s. midterms, the israeli elections, and i don't think it's conservatives that often too badly. and i think people are not ashamed to vote don roberts, thank you very much for joining us on what turned out to not be so suspenseful of an evening. chris hayes is up next. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. you are looking live at an image from salem, massachusetts, where we are waiting to hear from the man at the center of the deflate-gate scandal. it's a long way from the witch trials to this event in which tom brady is scheduled to speak and be interviewed and possibly address the fact that a recent report would seem to incriminate him and essentially conspireing to cheat although the report didn't come out and say that. said it's more probable than not, essentially manipulation
had happened and he, brady, had been generally aware of that. we're waiting for brady to come in. he has not said anything since a somewhat infamous press conference that happened during media week back in the run-up to the super bowl. this will be brady's first public appearance since an independent investigation for the nfl led by attorney ted wells. implicated brady, noting it is more probable than not that tom brady was at least generally aware of a plan to let the air out of the game balls during this year's afc championship game. 11 out of the 12 game balls used by brady and his offense during that game against the indianapolis colts were found to be underinflated and in violation of nfl rules. earlier today a statement from his agent, "a significance and terrible disappointment. investigators reached a conclusion first and then determined so-called facts later." we have steve kornacki, i
believe, on the scene. steve, are you there right now? >> reporter: yeah, can you hear me, chris? >> i can hear you. so there's introductory remarks happening at the podium right now. you're showing pictures of the scene. set the scene a little bit. it seemed like a truly bonkers situation up there. >> reporter: it really is. i mean, this was a long-scheduled event. when this report came out yesterday, i think people looked at it and said, well, i bet tom brady will cancel, i bet they'll kick the media out, close this off from the media. what's going to happen? well, he kept it. as you say, the rule is they're going to do ten minutes of audio, ten minutes of video and cameras have to be shut off. in that time we expect to hear probably something about deflate-gate. the scene outside here starting 2 1/2, 3 hours before the event was supposed to start at 7:30, now half an hour late. 4:30, 5:00 this afternoon, people were lining up. one point, there were 3,000 people i would say snaking through this parking lot.
it was at a standstill. they didn't let them in until 45 minutes before the start of this thing. they slowly started letting them in. there are people from the press trying to get in, offering some money to people who had tickets to this thing. people who had tickets to this thing seeking out members of the press and asking for big money for their tickets. i had one guy who came up to me, said, are you with the media? i said yes. he said national media? i said msnbc. he said, good, 3,200 bucks, i'll give you two vip tickets to get inside. i said talk to the broadcast network guys, we're basic cable, don't have that money. it's kind of crazy out here. of course it's filled with new england patriots fans. you're seeing all sorts of number 12 jerseys. >> this crowd, my sense is, this crowd isn't going to be seeking tough answers from tom brady. they basically are rallying to his defense, right? >> reporter: you hear two things from them. yes. one is you hear the he did nothing wrong, this is a frame-up, this is a vindictive conspiracy between the nfl and the colts or something like that.
you hear people who say that. then you hear the other people who look at you, lower they voice a little bit, yeah, i think there's something to this, but. the but is, they think it's smaller in scale in terms of what it's been blown up to. i heard one person here liken it to me, he said taking a little air out of the football is like in hockey when they bend the stick a little bit more than is legally allowed, maybe the refs catch them, if they do, it's two minutes in the penalty box. they say it's probably on that level for this. you hear a lot of fans who kind of rationalize it that way, but those are the two main camps. i haven't heard anybody here say, yeah, i'm disappointed in brady, i'm here to give him a piece of my mind. he showed up, in fact, two hours ago we heard a big rumbling overhead. helicopter landed in the field next to the arena here. tom brady gets off. there's all sorts of cheers erupt from people watching him get off that thing. sort of a hero's welcome as he gets off the helicopter and heads into the division 3 basketball arena behind me. >> i want to be clear, you're saying the sense you're getting from the people there, they
think the media might possibly be blowing this story out of proportion in relation to its actual importance? >> reporter: can you believe that? they also love it because they love getting to get on camera. i've seen that. >> all right. steve kornacki live there in salem. an unlikely defender for tom brady today in the personage of chris christie who's in new hampshire, who had this to say speaking up in brady's defense. i guess we don't have it. joining me now, joe sullivan, assistant managing editor and sports editor for "the boston globe." joe, what do you make of all this? >> well, it's quite a situation. i think that it has been in boston, this is the news of the day. it dominates everything. considering i noticed the reporter you had up in salem, i'm sorry i'm not remembering his name saying how people in new england feel that this is something that's been blown out of proportion as just a small thing.
i think that's probably accurate, but it's a very interesting story. some of us in "the globe" newsroom called this the greatest story about nothing ever. >> well, it's not nothing. you know, it's air being taken out of footballs. >> yes. >> i mean, look, part of this, right, the most interesting part to me about the report are those texts, right? i mean, it really does seem like whether the scale of the infraction, itself, was meaningful or not, there was some kind of concerted activity that was going on that was known enough that you have equipment managers more or less complaining about it, texting back and forth about it. that seems to me genuinely, genuinely incriminating. here comes mr. tom brady as he enters the room looking tall, composed. well-dressed. handsome as always. he is, after all, tom brady. receiving not surprisingly a hero's welcome from the rabid patriots fans there in salem, massachusetts.
>> from the sixth round nfl draft pick, to four-time super bowl champion, tom brady has forged a pro football career like few others. some of you likely remember how he led the michigan wolverines to an overtime victory in the 2000 orange bowl. every one of you remembers him leading the new england patriots to a 28-24 victory over the seahawks in the super bowl this past january. that was tom's fourth championship with the pats and coach bill belichick. also a recent salem series guest and his third crown as super bowl mvp. i think -- [ cheers ]
-- i think it's safe to say that his road to the hall of fame was paved long ago. >> mvp! mvp! >> we're never going to get a chance for tom to talk. off the gridiron, we also know tom brady as the husband to supermodel gisele bundchen. devoted father of three. occasional cliff diver. and champion of multiple charitable causes. among them, best buddies international, the boys and girls clubs of america, and the make-a-wish foundation. [ applause ]
joining tom tonight is another man of legendary stature in the sports world and beyond. jim gray is the voice of a generation and perhaps also the eyes, having witnessed and reported on more notable events than most of us can even remember. sports greats, u.s. presidents, and world leaders have all sat in the hot seat beside him. he was ringside when tyson bit off holyfield's ear and reporting from atlanta when a pipe bomb went off in olympic park. he's asked the difficult questions of everyone from pete rose to condoleezza rice. tonight we hope he'll go a little bit easier, but we expect he won't. ladies and gentlemen, i'm pleased to welcome our 33rd year salem state series, jim gray and tom brady. [ cheers ]
>> thank you. thank you. this is like a patriot pep rally. tom, it looks like you picked a pretty friendly place to reappear. >> thank you, guys, for being here. thank you very much. >> i love you, tom! >> i love you, too. >> so i think -- i think when we decided to do this four months ago, there was a little bit of a different circumstance than what we're facing here this evening, so we are going to keep the evening as to what it was supposed to be.
however, however, there is an elephant in the room. >> where? >> you may be the only one who doesn't see it. so, tom, you're in the news here, and the ted wells report was just released. [ boos ] >> jim's known for hard-hitting questions. we have a show on monday nights and this is how it usually goes for me, so i'm used to it. >> we're going to deal with it then we're going to move on in the evening. what is your reaction, tom, to the ted wells report? [ inaudible ] >> see, i can't usually say those things. i don't have really any reaction. our owner commented on it yesterday, and it's only been 30 hours so i haven't had much time
to digest it fully but when i do, i'll be sure to let you know how i feel about it. and everybody else. >> are you that slow a reader? >> well, my athletic career has been better than my academic career, so usually i'm used to reading "x"s and "o"s. this was a little bit longer. >> when do you plan to address this publicly? >> hopefully soon. hopefully soon. there's still a process that's going forth right now, and, you know, i'm involved in that process, so whenever it happens, it happens, and i'll certainly want to be very comfortable in how i feel about the statements that i make. >> so since those statements right now will speak for you, and you don't want to get into the details, how are you handling this controversy? is it bothering you? >> you know what, i've dealt with a lot of things in the past. i dealt with this three months ago before the super bowl.
i dealt with a lot of adversity over the course of my career, my life, and i'm very fortunate to have so many people that love me and support me. [ cheers ] thank you. thank you. you know, life so much is about ups and downs and certainly i accept my role and responsibility as a public figure and i think a lot of it you take the good with the bad, and dealing with different adversities in life you just try to do the best you can do. i was raised by a great mom and dad who support me and i have a lot of great teammates that support me, so we'll get through it. >> what are those people telling you? share it with us. >> they're a little biased, aren't they? they love me unconditionally and i love them unconditionally, and i can say we'll deal with this at a date. this, like you said earlier, this isn't what this night was supposed to be about, so i was here to come and have some fun.
>> has this, however, detracted from your joy of winning the super bowl? >> absolutely not. [ cheers ] absolutely not. >> why not? >> because we earned and achieved everything that we got this year as a team, and i'm very proud of that, and our fans should be, too. >> is the super bowl tainted? should there be -- >> what do you guys think? [ boos ] neither do i. >> your answer was? >> neither do i. >> no, it's not? is that what you're saying? >> i said ask what they thought. >> i asked what you thought. >> i said no, absolutely not. >> absolutely not.
do you care what others think, say, and are writing? you're getting pummeled, tom, maybe not here tonight, but across the country. do you care? >> i think, you know, my nature and my character is one -- i think as a human you care what people think. i certainly care what the people that are close to me think and what they care about. i think also as a public figure, you learn that there's not everyone's going to like you, either. so good, bad, and different, there's a lot of people that don't like tom brady. and i'm okay with that. so, like i said, i have teammates that i love and support that love and support me. i have fans. i have family. i'm very blessed. [ cheers ] >> we move on. it sounds like a good time to jump off a cliff. have you done that lately? >> yes, i have. as a matter of fact. >> why?
>> i asked myself the same question about that 30 minutes after it happened. i know. we were in costa rica with my family, and i had my wife holding a camera and my son was there with me and it was kind of a spur of the moment thing, and i hope you guys enjoyed it. i'll never do it again. but i think for all the young guys in the crowd, my wife was there with me and she said, are you going to do it? then i had a friend that did it. so i just still some of the best motivation in life is trying to impress a girl. >> joining any now on the phone is donald yee, tom brady's agent. thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you for inviting me, chris. >> you had a pretty scorching statement in response to the report issued by mr. wells, of the paul weiss law firm. what was wrong with the report?
>> well, you know, i think that the report as i stated in my statement earlier today left out critical pieces of tom's testimony which would have provided much-needed context to the report. additionally, to conclude that it was more probable than not that that my client was involved in something like deflating footballs. it just was so vague but also had the impact of implicating tom, and i thought that was unfair. >> what context did they leave out? like, what -- fill in the blanks for us. make the case. what -- what is the context that's missing here? >> well, without going into all of tom's specific testimony, which i don't really want to nitpick all of it, but, you
know, to give you one example, the report made a lot of the fact that tom had autographed some balls for staffers. and think mr. wells is trying to imply that there was some quid pro quo and, you know, the evidence really was a 180 from that, chris. basically every quarterback in the nfl is asked to autograph lots of things on a daily basis. and that's part of the culture and that's part of the context, and that's -- of their daily life. and for the investigators to try to connect an act of generosity which the quarterbacks are expected to show on behalf of the entire team, because they set the tone of generosity for the entire locker room toward staffers, to try to connect an act of generosity like that to
the alleged events i just thought was unfair. >> well, will you -- do you understand why the texts that are included in the report from mr. mcnally and mr. jastremski make people suspicious? it appears pressure is being applied from mr. mcnally to bring down the pressure of the balls and he's being given gifts essentially as a way of getting him, rewarding him for doing that. >> absolutely. i can understand why people would draw that conclusion. i wasn't president for the testimony of the staffers, but as i understand it from the report, itself, the staffers gave an alternative explanation, number one. number two, chris, i think if i were to take your cell phone and, for example, take out snippets of a text conversation between you and a friend and published that conversation and let's say the public didn't know
that friendship dynamic between the two of you. i think it could very easily be misconstrued as to what you were talking about and how you truly feel and who you really are. >> are you guys going to prepare some sort of formal response to sort of litigate this? or are you anticipating that there might be some sanction from the league? >> i really don't know what the league is going to do. i've just, like everyone else, have read that, you know, they're looking into everything, and trying to determine what they want to do. the recent history of nfl discipline toward players has been fairly spotty at best with a number of players who've been disciplined having their discipline being overturned by neutral arbitrators or judges. so i really don't know what's going to happen. >> all right. what do you think of all this conversation now about your
client's, tom brady's legacy, and suspicion that this shows some sort of deeper character flaw and it's related, perhaps, to the taping of practices that happened under the patriots before, that this is part of a culture there that bends the rules or even just breaks them? >> well, you know, i'm a big proponent of first amendment, chris, and i enjoy sports and that's i guess one of the fun things about sports is that there are lovers and there are haters and it creates a great bar discussion. so there's nothing they can do about that, you know, but i do think that if you saw the super bowl this year, and you let two good teams play, both teams played great, it turns out great entertainment. and the nfl does a terrific job of that. there are many terrific people who work in the league. i just think that this particular matter was mishandled. >> what do you think about people saying they should take the trophy away?
>> again, that's great bar discussion. >> all right. thank you, donald yee. tom brady's agent, for joining us tonight. i really appreciate it. >> thank you for having me. >> joining me now, joe sullivan, again, assistant managing editor, sports editor of "the boston globe." what did you think about that scene at salem there? >> it's just not surprising. patriots fans love their team, they especially love tom brady. i like tom's line, where he said it was like a patriots pep rally. it sure sounded like that to me sitting here in dorchester section of boston. >> am i wrong, did he both here in this appearance and also in that appearance he did during media week in the run-up to the super bowl when this was sort of a big story, really does seem kind of pained and uncomfortable. it may be just because it's not the position he's normally in. but he certainly doesn't seem like he's comfortable with the way all this is going down. >> well, i don't know who would be.
i didn't see him. i've been listening to him. and throughout his career, he's adept at dealing with the media and he sounded the same way to me. i thought he sounded fine. one thing he didn't say, and one thing don yee didn't say to you or in his statement today was did he know about the deflation of the footballs? or did he or did he not? and neither one said that. that's what's left hanging. >> that really is. and i notice from mr. yee's responses to me and also from his statement, there's no actual factual contention, right? they don't say they got anything wrong and they don't provide any kind of affirmative defense although maybe we'll see that later particularly if roger goodell comes out with some kind of punishment. do you anticipate there will be some kind of punishment? >> well, you know, the sort of guesses on this have been all over the board, and so i can't say i feel very confident, but i think -- i think there will be -- my guess is, i will say it that way, that there will be punishment probably a game or two suspension of tom brady, in
a way these things work. don yee pointed it out. the discipline is issued. usually there's an appeal, and it's reduced. if the nfl gives him two, three games, reduced down to one, something like that, is a believable scenario. >> do you think there will be any change in his reputation outside of -- obviously his reputation is not going to change in new england, but outside new england? >> no, i think it does. i think -- look, my own personal feeling on this is this is really kind of a minor infraction. a speeding ticket, let's say, in the real world. but i think that the patriots with four super bowls under bill belichick are a team that people seem to love to hate, and i think his reputation will suffer. he will carry this for the rest of his life, i believe. >> joe sullivan, thanks so much for your time. joining me now from outside salem state university in massachusetts where tom brady just spoke, msnbc's steve kornacki. well, steve, are you wishing you'd paid $3,200 to be in there?
>> reporter: i tell you, i mean, he could have just started reciting random letters from the alphabet and that place would have gone crazy. you talk about a home-field advantage. i give jim gray credit. he did did try to come at him from a couple different angles. there was only so much the crowd was going to let him do. i was surprised. i thought brady might have a little bit more to say about it. i wasn't expecting too much. even by that limited meager standard, he basically obviously said nothing in there and just said he'll have more to say at a later date, so we'll wait for the next giant press event for that. >> yeah, that was punting on first down. if i've ever seen it. >> reporter: yeah, it was. interesting thing, though, i mean, just the discussion you're having there, you know, with your previous guest just about where this goes here, just from the conversations i've had today in just watching, also you had don yee, on there a minute ago. the posture taken today, so aggressive, so defiant.
the way it's been explained to me, first of all when it comes to meting out the punishment, the nfl can make -- when it comes to violations of the sort of competitive rules, violations of competition, supposedly the standard the nfl has in its bylaws if there's a preponderance of evidence, the term more likely than not, if that's what they determine, they're good to go ahead with punishment. there's an added sort of layer because the nfl is finding when it comes to brady in this report more likely than not that he had general awareness, at least general awareness. so you've kind of qualified it on both ends there, so it seems like the brady camp kind of took that and said, look, nfl, you don't have the smoking gun, you don't have the concrete proof and we're basically going to dare you to take the face of the league in many ways, a guy who's just won the super bowl, guy who's won four super bowls and on the strength of that kind of
evidence take him out for a game, two games, four games, eight games. they're basically throwing it right back in the nfl's face. i was really surprised by that today. they in a way, they're cornered. another way they're a little confident. >> it's sort of the smart play, too, although i have to say going through most of the report, nearly all of the report, the report's evidence seems stronger than that very, very hedged conclusion that's been the kind of graph that people have pulled out. >> reporter: absolutely. look, let's face it, like in the two different sort of courts here, in the court of public opinion tom brady's been convicted. in the court of public opinion the new england patriots as an organization were convicted eight years ago when the spy-gate thing happened. for the vast majority of sports fans, football fans, sort of casual fans around the country, it was already pretty clear to them that something was up here. they look at this report and now you talk about tom brady's legacy, you talk about the legacy of this era for the new england patriots. i mean, you don't have too many dynasties in professional sports
anymore, too many dynasties in pro football anymore. the salary cap era. here's a franchise over the past 15 years has kept the same head coach, same quarterback, has won four super bowls, wins its division title every single year. you don't see that in the modern day nfl. it's so special. yet when the history of this era of the nfl is written, it's going to be right there no matter what now. spy-gate was already guaranteed there would be some taint on it. now this, having this on the record, the whole investigation, the way the super bowl was overshadowed a few months ago by this, when you look back on this era, there are going to be a lot of people. i'm a new england patriot fan. it crushes me to say this. most sports fans, most sports historians who look back at it will say about the new england patriots, wow, amazing achievement, how did they put that together? that was fantastic, but there was this cloud, too. you can certainly make the case that when it comes to taking a little air out of the footballs, as i said the analogy that's been made to me, resonates with me, think about a stick in hockey. there's rules about how much
they can bend the stick. they do it a little more, they get thrown in the box for two minutes. it's a minor penalty. in my heart i think that's what this is. but again, this is an organization, not the first time they've been down this road and will pay a price in terms of their legacy for it. >> steve kornacki, thanks so much. other news today, there was other news today, the court came in, second highest court in the land and said edward snowden was right. we'll talk about that, ahead. boys? stop less. go more. the passat tdi clean diesel with up to 814 hwy miles per tank. just one reason volkswagen is the #1 selling diesel car brand in america. doers. they don't worry if something's possible. they just do it. at sears optical, we're committed to bringing them eyewear that works as hard as they do. right now, save up to $200 on eyeglasses. quality eyewear for doers.
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side ♪ today for the first time, a high level federal court ruled that one of the programs disclosed by edward snowden in 2013 is illegal. the opinion for the unanimous three-judge panel, second circuit u.s. court of appeals, reads as a harsh criticism of the government's argument that a massive nsa program to collect in bulk the domestic phone records of millions of americans is lawful under section 215 of the patriot act. the judge wrote "we hold the text of section 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, it does not authorize the telephone meta data program."
section 215 is set to expire next month unless a bill is passed to reauthorize it. patrick leahy of vermont and mike lee of utah released a bipartisan statement that reads in part, "congress should not reauthorize bulk collection program
that the court has found to violate the law. we will not consent to any extension of this program." this, of course, is the program that raised red flags for senator ron wyden who back in march of 2013 asked director of national intelligence james clapper this very, very pointed question. >> does the nsa collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of americans? >> no, sir. >> it does not? >> not wittingly. >> joining me now, deputy legal director for the aclu. it was the aclu who argued the case before the u.s. court of appeals. congratulations on your victory. >> thank you. >> all right. how big a deal is this ruling?
>> it's a big deal. it's a great ruling. we've been waiting for it for a long time now. it's a case that we filed right after the first snowden disclosures. this was the first program that was disclosed. >> this was the big bombshell one that said, hey, by way, they keep going to your cell phone providers and saying give us everyone's call records. >> every day, every day they got from all the major telecommunications providers a list of, you know, essentially this log of who you called and when you called them, how long you spoke to them for and they have that for everybody, not just suspected terrorists or suspected criminals, everybody. and we challenged the lawfulness of that program. both on statutory grounds and on constitutional grounds. and the ruling today is a ruling that the program violates the statute. in other words,
the law doesn't authorize the government to collect information on this scale. so it's, you know, a big deal. >> so just to be clear here, right, there's the patriot act, the statute, there's the u.s. constitution. constitutional grounds. this ruling doesn't touch the constitutional question, right? >> that's right. we argued both. said it violates the statute. the patriot act doesn't allow
it. >> even the patriot act doesn't allow this. the text of the law that got passed in the wake of 9/11 -- >> even that has limits. and we said if you disagree with us, then it violates the constitution. but the court didn't disagree with us. the court said we agree with you, the patriot
act authorizes a lot of things but doesn't authorize this. >> how did this even get into court? i mean, so many of these cases have been kicked out of court on what's basically national security grounds. how did you -- >> that's right. >> how did you guys get this heard? >> we argued a case just before the snowden disclosures in the supreme court challenging a different surveillance program and the supreme court held 5-4 that we didn't have standing, we didn't have the right to be there because we couldn't prove that our communications had been monitored. and, you know, that was a very demoralizing decision. then months after, just weeks after, in fact, that decision, the snowden disclosures came and gave us among other things standing to challenge this program.
>> because just on its face, everyone -- >> everybody is subject to the program. we happen to be, the aclu happens to be a
customer of verizon business networks which is the company that was the recipient of the order that edward snowden disclosed. >> okay. so what happens next? >> that's a very good question. i wish i had a clearer answer to it. the reason i don't is we get this decision coincidentally at a time when congress is already in this heated debate about government surveillance, and we're in this heated debate because the provision, the patriot act provision that underlies this particular program is set to sunset, expire on june 1st. congress is already debating what should we do between now and june 1st? reauthorize section 215, let it set? this decision kind of throws all of that into a degree of chaos.
>> right, if that weren't the case, it would be fairly clear, right, the government would probably repeal. >> that's right. >> if the thing is going to sunset, anyway, it would essentially -- if it expires or is amended in some ways, it's no longer a live issue, right? so
it might just -- >> it could certainly have an effect on litigation. if it sunsets, you're right, it mainly moots the case, most of the case. one of the things i think this decision is valuable for, one of the reasons it's valuable is i think it makes clear that the reforms being considered by congress right now don't go far enough because the reforms are being championed by people who are truly committed to privacy, but they've had to make a lot of concessions to the intelligence community. and so the bill makes some reforms at the margins. it's good in some respects but it raises concerns in other respects. this decision i think is going to strengthen the hand of those of us who have been calling for more far-reaching reforms than have been considered so far.
>> is this the clearest -- the clearest case of all that we've learned about these programs throughout the snowden docs and through other reporting? >> you mean, is it the worst surveillance program, is that what you mean? >> yes. the clearest -- the sort of clearest violation of its own authority. >> right. >> or the clearest constitutional problem. >> well, it may be that this is the clearest violation of a statute, of a federal statute. although there are other provisions -- other surveillance programs that are based on the same problematic legal theory that the government was advancing here. but there are other programs that in some ways are even worse, but they don't rely -- >> it's striking to consider this was happening in secret and there's no way to
challenge it until you knew about it. >> that's right. >> once it came out, it was challenged and the courts say it's not legal. >> that's right. >> jameel jaffer, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. still ahead, as the right wing backs away from pam geller and anti-islam rallies, i'll explain why part of me feels like she should hold rallies like the one the two gunmen attacked in texas last sunday. what you're doing to find a bathroom?
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you can even check your connection status on your phone. now it's easier than ever to manage your account. get started at xfinity.com/myaccount on sunday night two gunmen attacked an anti-islam gathering in garland, texas, which featured a contest to draw a caricature of the prophet muhammad with a $10,000 top prize. the two gunmen, one of whom was in contact with isis sympathizers in the run-up to the attack were killed after they shot and wounded a security guard. they appear to have been motivated by anger over the muhammad cartoon context. depictions of muhammad are considered offensive to many. the violence brought a lot of
attention to the woman, pamela geller, odious figure who's been an essential figure on the right. geller alleged president obama is a secret muslim who, quote, wants jihad to win, and her organization has pushed state bills to counter the baseless notion that america is being overtaken by sharia law, paid for ads on public transportation, decried as racist for drawing a link between terrorism and all islamic believers. most infamously, geller was largely responsible for the furor over the so-called ground zero mosque, which she casts as a muslim victory shrine to the september 11th attacks. through all this, geller remains a respected figure on the right, appearances on fox news, giving lectures on islam. after sunday, instead of being hailed by conservatives as a martyr, she was cast as a villain. >> was it fair for the police to knowingly put them at risk for this unnecessary provocation? i say no. >> she's a provocateur. all she's doing is provoking and taunting people and this country
has enough problems right now. >> this is what happens when you light the fuse and you get violence. >> with this event in garland, texas, was doing was mocking the muslims. >> i'm discouraged that people would do this. >> geller told nbc news she had no regrets. >> you can smear and demonize pamela geller but the media, cultural, academic elites are doing are emboldening the savages, sanctioning this violence, intimidation, when we should be doing the opposite. we should be holding these kinds of events every month. >> all right. i have a very, very dim view of pamela geller, i think she's bigoted, wrong. there's a part of me that believes you cannot allow your free speech, no matter how terrible, provocative, to be curtailed by the threat of violence. we're going to talk about that, the hard questions raised by pamela geller's bigotry, next.
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joining me now to discuss free speech within the context of pamela geller's islamophobia, michael moynihan. and zahra billoo, council of islamic relations in the san francisco bay area. let me start with you. what do you make of the fact we've now seen the right by and large sort of distance itself, reject geller, in the wake of this event? >> you know, it's unfortunate that it's these tragic circumstances that are forcing the narrative to shift, but it's also a relief that even people on the same political spectrum
as pamela geller recognize how damaging she is and she's really championing hate and bigotry. >> here's my feeling about this. i want to get both your responses. we have this debate about "charlie hebdo" and it was so horrific in many ways then it became sort of a debate about the actual content of the "charlie hebdo" speech because everyone says obviously no one should -- obviously, obviously no one should be murdered for anything they write. clearly. but am i je suis charlie, do i want to endorse what they did? there's a debate about that. geller, it really is ugly stuff, right? my feeling, though, in the wake of this, there's some part of me that feels if the thing you're worried about is doing an event that will provoke two people rolling up in body armor and automatic weapons trying to murder people, then it actually weirdly is important that you do that or it's important that that be done. like, this idea that this was a provocation which, yes, it was a provocation, but i don't care if
it was it was a provocation if what it's provoking is attempted murder because i want to live in a society that that is essentially not okay and not tolerated. >> i want to have a conversation, you know, there are two separate conversations here. pamela geller's odious views are on display for everyone to see. a number of people on the right, i don't consider myself part of that. they have denounced her. thank god. the other thing is that, you know, i think the bigger problem here, i don't like the fact that we are again after "charlie hebdo" litigating the content of pamela geller's blog posts and her silly contest. it strikes me if people -- if provocation to murder, to have a bunch of 50 knuckle draggers who think islam is the worst -- it's not radical islam. it is islam. if it's provoking people into gunfire, that's the bigger problem, right? there's nothing that can provoke me, i mean, i understand that people are offended by this, but, you know, you can't pull
out a gun. that seems like an obvious point. but that said, there is no legal sort of regime here that says this, you know, free speech -- is it free speech or hate speech? i saw this today. >> right. >> it can be both. >> right. it's hateful, but it's still -- >> not hate speech in the sort of european sense that it's illegal. >> right. what do you think, zahra? >> you know, michael took the words out of my mouth. it's two conversations. in thinking about this, i think it's three. one is how horrible and hateful pamela geller and her people, her allies are. the other is, of course, all violence should be condemned. there should be no words that could provoke me or anyone else to violence and i think that everyone in talking about garland, texas, is in agreement about that. i'm not hearing disagreement. they're also not the only people committing violence. violences happens for numerous reasons. it should always be condemned. the third is the free speech issues, themselves. i would say i would also agree with what i'm hearing michael say, i'm not advocating for a litigation of the content of the
speech, but rather conversation about what does free speech mean? and how do i want to use that to promote mutual understanding? and to expose the bigotry that others are spreading. >> right. so here's where -- here's what i want to say. so i agree with all that, but here's -- here's an example of how i think of this in my -- from where i sit, right? if someone -- if we were going to do a segment that was about someone advertising on the network and i was kind of on the fence about it or didn't like the segment, right, i thought it was a little unfair maybe, then someone came to us and said you can't do that segment because of an advertiser, i'd be like, now we have to do the segment. >> yeah, yeah. >> because i have to -- it has to be the case that we can do that segment, right? >> this is when free speech is necessary. >> right. >> so what i don't like is the notion that there are people going to be making calculations particularly like a venue, do we want to give you venue over to this thing? and the calculation they're
making isn't a calculation of do i think this person is bigoted or odious? or is this going to create a security footprint i'm not comfortable with? that seems to me to be a real threat to free speech. >> yeah. i mean, i've been -- >> i think we would agree. i don't think personal safety should be what determines how and when i speak or what you're permitted to say or what we choose to say, but i also don't think that pamela geller is a champion of free speech. examples of her own work advocating against first amendment rights include what you mentioned about park 51, her opposition to al jazeera. she's not a free speech advocate, she's an anti-muslim advocate. >> this is an important point. when i was at "the daily beast" and published a fantastic piece by a free speech fundamentalist. he said, let's hang on here. there was a rumor going around, i can't remember what african country banned islam, they celebrated. that's not anyone who celebrates free speech. the thing is this idea, i really hope that people get away from this idea of it's a provocation,
we shouldn't provoke things. i don't want, you know -- >> i think that's the word that i found bothersome. again, we're talking about a person that i really just -- like, i find her odious, but it's that word and that word that has been popping up on fox news i've been uncomfortable with. >> the idea of the person being odious, it doesn't matter. there are people that aren't odious that provoke people with religious beliefs into violence, whether two men holding hands in the wrong neighborhood. that's a provocation to people who are very religious. >> michael moynihan, zahra billoo. that's "all in." "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. a lot going on in today's news and a lot that's due to unfold tonight over the course of this hour and later on tonight. we're still waiting for results in the british elections tonight. polls have been closed for about four hours now. david cameron trying to hold on to advertise position as british prime minister.